After eight months with a vacancy, the City of San Fernando now has a city manager.
In a unanimous decision, the city council voted to appoint Alexander P. Meyerhoff, effective Sept. 1.
“I am excited for Mr. Meyerhoff. He seems like a very intelligent, well-rounded person, someone who is very eager to work with all people and all groups in the City of San Fernando. And perhaps more distinctly, he is one of the first city managers in some time who we’ve actually hired that has prior city manager experience,” said Councilmember Joel Fajardo, prior to making the motion to approve the appointment.
“It was a long process, and I believe in my heart that we definitely made the right decision,” Mayor Silvia Ballin said.
Meyerhoff takes on the second-most important role in the city with more than 20 years of experience working in government, starting as a city planner for the City of Indio in 1995.
Most recently he was the city manager for the cities of Hemet and Holtville. Prior to that Meyerhoff served as the community development director for Twentynine Palms and Desert Hot Springs.
He received a Bachelor of Arts in History and Master of Arts in Urban Planning from UCLA. His LinkedIn profile says Meyerhoff is an adjunct professor at College of the Desert, teaching courses in architecture and real estate development.
“It was very clear he had the experience. He answered the questions based on experience. And I felt many of the other candidates did not have that wealth of experience that he had,” Ballin said.
“I think we all went through the process the past four days of interviews. We really looked carefully into this. I’m happy with it,” Councilmember Antonio Lopez said.
“I don’t have anything to say, you know, just let the ball roll, see how it goes, and wish him the best,” added Councilmember Jaime Soto.
Meyerhoff’s LinkedIn page lists various accomplishments during his short time with the City of Hemet, including balancing the budget for the first time in 10 years, and successfully helping pass Measure U, which funds police and fire services. He was only there for 20 months, however, and did not publicly mention his reason for departure.
Hemet City Attorney Eric Vail told a local paper, the city council there and Meyerhoff “developed significant differences of opinion concerning the management and direction of the city, and these differences have become irreconcilable.”
Ballin said Meyerhoff and the San Fernando City Council discussed his abrupt departure from Hemet, and said she is not concerned a similar stint will happen here.
When asked for comment, Meyerhoff said, “I am looking forward to working with the city council and city staff.”
San Fernando has been without an official city manager since Brian Saeki resigned in January to work for the City of Covina. Since then, Finance Director Nick Kimball served as interim city manager. Kimball, with the approval of the council, paid Bob Murray and Associates $8,467.64 to recruit candidates for the position.
Ballin said they received more than 30 applications, and the council interviewed six candidates Aug. 4 and 5.
All council members decided Meyerhoff was the best candidate.
“I’m very impressed,” Council-member Robert Gonzales told The San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol. “He has a lot of great ideas and experience that I really think he is going to bring to the team.
“The thing that I think stands out the most is his personality. Within the first five minutes of meeting him you felt like you’ve known him forever. I think he is going to be a great ‘people’ person…he communicates very well, and breaks it down easily so that you can understand him.”
Gonzales said his “first and foremost” expectations for Meyerhoff are to hire the city’s executive staff “so that we can start working on some of these projects, and help with the workload of our employees; get the city running back full steam.”
Current vacant positions include Recreation & Community Services Director, Community Development Director, and Public Works Director/ Deputy City Manager.
Before ending the council meeting, council members expressed their gratitude to Kimball for acting as interim city manager for the past eight months.
“You will be one of the best city managers in history,” said Fajardo.
“Nick, I just want to thank you. I think when we did that decision, of your appointment of interim manager, it was probably one of the best decisions council made,” Gonzales said.
“In fact, as we see toward the future, you were non-biased to any of the council up here, and you were able to provide us with information. Eight months of you being there and dealing with every single council member…we were really well informed these eight months. You were able to provide us that information, and do a text of phone call. We are just very appreciative.”